Memories - Prévert - Montand - Baldwin

Jacques Prévert and Pablo Picasso, at La Colombe d'or, the famous inn in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

Prévert is one of those men who give France its special cachet. A free thinker who shares his talent with other artists.
One does not always realize his immense contribution to what is called the French spirit. If we were to remove the nuggets he offered us, our culture would be terribly impoverished. In particular the cinema, he who wrote the script and dialogues of the masterpiece "Les enfants du Paradis" or "Quai des Brumes" who knew how to make Jean Gabin say "t'as d'beaux yeux tu sais" and answer Michèle Morgan "Embrassez-moi", who chiseled the song of the film "Les portes de la nuit" where Montand sings "Les Feuilles mortes".
For me he remains the one that, as a child, I called the Ogre, because he had fun sticking his cigarette on his tongue, pretending to swallow it and then taking it out again in volutes of smoke and grumbling, "I am the Ogrrrre, I am going to eat you".
Ah làlà Yves Montand !
Here he is in full demonstration, at my godfather's, at the Colombe d'or, in front of the mosaic of Braque.
He taught me to play poker and to dive. Result, today, I play better poker than I dive! For his friends it was "Montand", I never heard him called "Yves".
Some memories from La Saga Maeght: Sometimes we would ride our bikes down to Cagnes and Villeneuve-Loubet and then, a little older, on a moped, to buy records or to take one of our dogs to the vet. Other times, Montand takes us to the Eden Roc where he has an appointment to play cards in one of the hotel rooms. In the cab that drives down the narrow and winding roads to Antibes, he tells me that he learned to play poker the hard way, with the guys from the Rat Pack, when he was in America to shoot The Billionaire with Marilyn Monroe. Sinatra and his friends stiffed him, he lost his entire fee, huge for the time, but it was worth it, if only for a look from Shirley MacLaine, the smartest, he likes to repeat. "Now," he tells me, "I can act, it cost me enough." For us, he imitates American gangsters, sings off-key to tease us, teaches us songs, acts like a mutt, but above all makes us laugh, laugh until we cry.
Jimmy Baldwin also chose Saint Paul de Vence to live and work. His laughter still resonates in my mind.

James Baldwin was born in 1924 in a segregated America. A gifted child, he chose, among all his talents, to devote himself to writing.
Very quickly, his writings deal with homosexuality, bisexuality but also identity and racism. A great educator, he debates relentlessly on television to explain to whites the consequences of racism. On July 2, 1964, thanks to the work of civil rights activists, American President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, a law prohibiting racial discrimination and segregation.
A few days later, on July 28, 1964, Jimmy was present at the inauguration of the Maeght Foundation, honored by my grandfather, along with the great artists of the 20th century.